Thursday, 29 February 2024

News

LAKEPORT – Two suspects in a Lakeport shooting case will return to court in January for their preliminary hearing.


Joshua Isaac Wandry, 35, and Deborah Ann James, 47, appeared briefly before Judge Richard Martin in Lake County Superior Court on Friday before their case was continued until next month.


Wandry and James, along with 59-year-old Thomas Loyd Dudney – all of them from Sonoma County – are facing numerous charges for an alleged Oct. 20 attack on 49-year-old Ronald Greiner of Lakeport.


The charges against Dudney and Wandry include premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, torture, home invasion robbery in concert with another, first degree burglary with a person at home, assault with a firearm, assault with a blunt force object, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and serious battery, and special allegations of use of a firearm, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins, who is handling the case.


James is charged with attempted murder, robbery and burglary, according to court records.


Police and deputies found Greiner hogtied, shot and beaten at his S. Main Street home on the morning of Oct. 20, as Lake County News has reported. Greiner's home also allegedly was burglarized; he told investigators that the suspects who broke into his home were after his medical marijuana.


Dudney already has been ordered to stand trial in the case, which is scheduled to take place on Feb. 9.


There could be more suspects in the case.


Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office told Lake County News on Friday that sheriff's investigators are continuing to work the case, and they anticipate more arrests.


Wandry – who remains in the Lake County Jail – and James, who is free after posting $100,000 bail, were set for preliminary hearing on Dec. 4, but other court matters caused a delay, as Lake County News has reported.


At that time, Wandry's defense attorney, Stephen Carter, and James' defense attorney, Komnith Moth, had just received about 50 pages of discovery in the case from Hopkins, who noted some of the new information he was dealing with included a summary of cell phone numbers.


In addition, phone messages between Dudney, Wandry and James were being reviewed by investigators, it was reported in court Dec. 4.


On Friday, when the case was called, James was running late, and when she appeared Judge Martin warned her that it was the second time she had appeared late to a hearing. If it happened again he said he would have her placed back in jail.


Carter said Friday morning that in the past week he's received more discovery from Hopkins, noting, “they're giving it to us as they get it.”


As a result, more issues have arisen that he said required more investigation. Carter filed a motion to continue, which he said he had discussed with Hopkins.


“I think it's only fair that the attorneys have time to digest all the information that keeps coming in,” said Hopkins.


The preliminary hearing was set for 9 a.m. Jan. 22. The defense and prosecution agreed that the hearing likely would take about two hours.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

TALMAGE – Mendocino County Sheriff's officials want to speak to a Ukiah man in connection with a fatal Wednesday shooting in which a Talmage man died.


Capt. Kurt Smallcomb reported Thursday that investigators are attempting to locate Joseph Roy Starrett, who they are calling a “person of interest” in the investigation into the death of Michael Anthony Hunter.


Hunter, 24, was found fatally wounded at a home on Mill Creek Road in Talmage just after 3 a.m. Wednesday, as Lake County News has reported.


Deputies responded to a fight at the home, where the found Hunter lying on the living room. He was taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center, where he died.


Smallcomb said sheriff's detectives are continuing to follow up on leads in the case, in addition to seeking Starrett.


Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Joseph Starrett is encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriffs Office at 707-463-4086 or 707-467-9159.


Smallcomb said callers can remain anonymous.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – Tuesday proved a big day for several local charitable organizations, as the Lake County Wine Alliance handed out the proceeds of the 2009 Wine Auction.


The board of directors of the Lake County Wine Alliance distributed $57,200 to 18 nonprofit organizations, agencies and high schools from the proceeds of the 10th annual Lake County Wine Auction held in September.


Since it began a decade ago, the Wine Auction has been one of the county's premier fundraising events.

With this latest distribution of funds, the Lake County Wine Alliance has contributed $770,202 in proceeds from the Wine Auction since its initial event in 2000.


Proceeds include ticket sales, donations from sponsorships, live and silent auction income, and sales of special edition, fine art posters by acclaimed local artist John R. Clarke.


Gathering at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro in Kelseyville, more than 50 representatives of the beneficiaries celebrated the opportunity to receive these funds that will augment budgets that have been severely impacted during the recent economic downturn.


Each category in the designated areas of support, the arts, health and community was allocated $17,500 to be shared amongst the recipients.


Recipients included the following:


  • Arts: The Allegro Scholarship Program received $2,500; $15,000 to the fine arts programs at the five Lake County high schools was shared with $3,000 each to Clear Lake, Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Middletown and Upper Lake high schools.

  • Health: Each recipient in this category received $2,500 – Lake County Hunger Task Force, St. Helena Hospital Clearlake mammography fund, and the five senior centers with Meals on Wheels programs – Highlands Senior Service Center, Lakeport Senior Activity Center, Live Oak Seniors, Lucerne Alpine Senior Center and Middletown Senior Center.

  • Community: The Stitch & Give Knitters were given $1,000; the Lake County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America received $5,000; People Services Inc. and the Senior Law Project Inc., each received $5,750.


Additional contributions at the Wine Auction raised $4,700 to benefit the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum restoration project of the Lake County Historical Society.


Applications for funding from the 2010 Lake County Wine Auction, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 16, are available online at www.winealliance.org or from Judy Luchsinger, chair of the beneficiaries committee, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Applications must be postmarked by March 5, 2010.


Members of the Wine Alliance board are Margaret Walker-Stimmel, president; Marie Beery, vice president; Pamela Shine-Duncan, secretary; Rob Roumiguiere, treasurer; and Kaj Ahlmann, Judy Luchsinger, Wilda Shock, and Janet Thompson.


The charter of the Wine Alliance directs its efforts to foster the arts, benefit health services, and support the community, while promoting Lake County as a premier grape growing and fine wine region.


The Lake County Wine Alliance may be contacted by phone, 866-279-WINE, or by mail to P.O. Box 530, Kelseyville 95451.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – A Friday traffic collision in southern Lake County resulted in major injuries.


The crash occurred along Highway 20 near mile marker 44, according to the California Highway Patrol.


The CHP reported the crash shortly before noon.


A vehicle rolled over and trapped at least one subject who had injuries, according to the report.


The highway's eastbound lane was blocked with emergency vehicles, with firefighters from Northshore Fire and Lake County Sheriff's deputies on scene.


An air ambulance was requested because a 2-year-old child was reported to have head injuries and needed to be transported to Children's Hospital Oakland.


Further details about the crash, how many vehicles issued and the names of those involved were not immediately available.


The area where the Friday incident occurred has seen a number of serious crashes in recent years, as Lake County News has reported.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Michael Meese's life will be celebrated in a memorial service scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 2009, in Santa Rosa. Courtesy photo.
 

 

 

 


KELSEYVILLE – Lives are a series of moments – many of them small, but some that are so significant that they become defining for individuals.


On a day in late 1993, as Michael Meese – then a sergeant with the Petaluma Police Department – walked with murder suspect Richard Allen Davis through a field near Cloverdale, he was about to find himself up against one such defining moment.


Meese would play a key role in solving the October 1993 abduction and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, a young girl whose story encapsulated every parent's worst nightmare and led to passage of the state's “Three Strikes” law. Davis led Meese and other investigators to the girl's body in that Cloverdale field.


In his diary of Davis' 1996 trial, Polly Klaas' father, Marc, wrote, “Of all the players involved in this crime, three are particularly significant; Polly the victim, Davis the killer and Meese the cop.”


Marc Klaas recounted how that, two weeks after his daughter's kidnapping, Meese “put his arm around my shoulder, looked deep into my eyes and said, 'I'll get her for you Marc. I'll find her and I'll bring her home.'”


Meese would do just that. His doggedness in following the case would lead to a confession from Davis, later convicted of the girl's murder and sentenced to death.


When he died Nov. 23 in Kelseyville after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer 35 days earlier, Meese was eulogized across the nation for his work to bring Davis to justice.


But, as Meese's wife, Michelle, will tell you, Michael Meese's career and life went far beyond that day and that investigation.


“There's so much more to the man than the Polly Klaas case,” she said.


And that life – which saw travel, humor, many friendships and love of NASCAR – will be commemorated this Saturday, Dec. 12, at a memorial service beginning at 1 p.m. in the Burbank Auditorium on the Santa Rosa Junior College Campus, 1501 Mendocino Ave.


The community is welcome.


“We expect a huge crowd,” Michelle said Wednesday evening. “My husband touched a lot of peoples' lives.”


Several speakers will celebrate Michael Meese at the Saturday service, including Marc Klaas, who became friends with Meese and would go on to become a force in advocating for legislation to protect children and crime victims.


Also to speak are family, former colleagues and one of Meese's students from the Santa Rosa Junior College administration of justice program, where he became a full-time instructor in 2008. Michelle said that her husband told her following his diagnosis about how much he would miss his students.


A reception will follow at the college's art gallery, where there will be an open microphone. “I think I'm going to learn some things about my husband I may not know,” Michelle said.


She said she's received many messages from people whose lives her husband touched, including crime victims who knew him as a sympathetic police officer who listened to them and tried to help.


Meese was born in Detroit and raised in Libertyville, Ill. He dropped out of high school and joined the Army at age 17.


Despite leaving school early, Meese loved learning, according to his wife. He would get his GED and an associate's degree while in the Army. In 1993 received his bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College. While the Klaas trial was under way, he was working on his master's degree in public administration, which he received from the University of San Francisco in 1996.


He was always reading, and became an expert in military and war history. Michelle said he could look at a ship, tell you its weight and other specifics.


Meese also was studying for his PhD, but he withdrew from that program when he learned of his cancer.


He began his law enforcement career in 1981when he joined the Petaluma Police Department, where he would spend the next 15 years.


In 1996, when the Klaas case was over, Meese joined the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office staff as an investigator. He later would take a job as assistant chief of the University of Nevada Reno Police Force before returning to Northern California to be chief of the Hopland Rancheria of Public Safety in Mendocino County.


Meese cared deeply about the tribal community, said his wife, who was told by one of his colleagues that he had done a lot of important work in the area of tribal law.


The couple met during the Klaas case, many years before they were married. Both also had ended up moving to Reno at about the same time, and shared a fence in their neighborhood. Beginning as friends, they later began dating, and when he accepted the job in Hopland, Michelle said she chose to follow him back to California.


When he was coming back to work in Hopland, a friend suggested Meese check out Lake County as a place to live. Michelle's parents retired on Cobb, so she was familiar with the county.


The couple were raising his granddaughter, Victoria. “What a wonderful place to raise your children,” said Michelle. “Lake County is a special place.”


The couple would get married at sunset on July 4, 2005, overlooking Clear Lake. “It was really quite beautiful,” Michelle said.


Their marriage wasn't a long one, but she said it was a quality union, and she'd trade that quality for quantity any day.


He loved cooking, she loved baking – and he loved eating the baking, she said – and they enjoyed taking trips in their fifth wheel travel trailer.


About his many cases he often was silent, said his wife. “He kept a lot of that private.”


He did talk about the Klaas case, however. She said he often received requests to discuss it.


Meese also kept all of his case files and materials. “He never wanted to get rid of it until Richard Allen Davis is put to death,” she said.


At one point he asked her to scan all of the case photos he had, and she noted an eerie resemblance between a picture of Davis' mother and the young victim. Davis has accused his mother of severely abusing he and his siblings.


The case came back into sharp focus earlier this year, when Davis appealed his death sentence to the California Supreme Court.


Davis' counsel argued several grounds for overturning the conviction, from prosecutorial misconduct to an allegation that Meese had not told Davis of his right to have an attorney present before he admitted killing the girl in a videotaped confession.


However, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction, dismissing the suggestion that Meese had erred.


Here in Lake County, Meese's life went on. Michelle said he put 100 percent into everything, including his work as president of the Buckingham water district board, where he was trying to help improve the way the district did business, which gained him some opponents in the community.


He had been feeling ill since late summer, and when his skin became jaundiced he went to see the doctor. On Oct. 19, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, with a tumor found to be blocking his liver's bile duct.


Chemotherapy followed, and there was some hope for a little time, although Michelle noted, “We were realists.”


Meese would end up having just over a month left. At one point he turned to his wife and asked her if she thought anyone would come to his funeral, a concern which caught her off guard.


In the time he had, he was able to tell his friends and colleagues about his diagnosis. The accolades, notes and messages that resulted were overwhelming, Michelle said. The fact that he got to hear and read them in life was a gift.


She said he would cry after reading each of the letters and messages he received and afterward would say, “I had no idea.”


Even his opponents in the water district were quick to share their condolences, she said.


Meese also was a huge NASCAR fan, and he got to watch the last race of the season just before he died, Michelle said.


In addition to Michelle, Michael Meese leaves behind sisters Mindy Beers and Marilyn Rasco; his sons, Todd and his wife Sheri Meese of Hidden Valley Lake, and Frank Meese of Reno, Nev.; grandchildren, Victoria Meese, Jolon Cisneros, Tiyanna Meese, Ceceilia Meese and Kendra Meese; and a great many friends, colleagues and admirers.


The family has asked that, instead of flowers, contributions be made to the college fund for Victoria Meese or to the Debra D. Meese Scholarship Fund through the SRJC Foundation, 1501 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa CA 95401.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – After a second night of temperatures dipping into the teens around Lake County – with numerous reports of ruptured water lines – the possibility of snow is returning, along with a series of storms bringing much-needed rain, according to forecasters.


An arctic blast moved into Lake County on Sunday afternoon and dropped scattered snow flurries before quickly moving out, leaving much colder air in its wake. The National Weather Service in Sacramento said that cold weather will continue through Wednesday.


The agency also issued a freeze warning that will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday.


The National Weather Service predicted that Wednesday's high temperature will be near 40, with clouds moving in overnight. Lows are expected to drop back into the mid- to upper-20s, and another freeze warning is likely to be issued.


Chances of precipitation will increase on Thursday, with a 40-percent chance of rain and snow increasing to a 50 percent chance of rain overnight, with temperatures forecast to remain above freezing, the National Weather Service reported.


Rain should continue through Saturday, with daytime highs near 40 on Friday, and the mid-40s by Saturday, the forecast said.


Temperatures will slowly warm up with partial clearing on Sunday. Forecaster predict that rain will return and continue through Tuesday.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

FORT BRAGG – Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies have taken into custody a Ukiah man they were seeking as a person of interest in a murder case.


Joseph Roy Starrett, 37, was arrested for being a felon in possession of a gun late Thursday, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.


Investigators wanted to talk to Starrett in regard to the fatal shooting of Michael Anthony Hunter, 24, of Talmage.


Hunter was shot to death in a fight at a home on Mill Creek Road in Talmage early Wednesday morning, as Lake County News has reported.


At 9:30 p.m. Thursday the Mendocino County Sheriffs Office received information that Starrett was visiting a residence in the 500 block of South Harrison in Fort Bragg, Smallcomb said.


Sheriff's deputies – in conjunction with Fort Bragg Police officers – proceeded to the location and arrested Starrett for being a felon in possession of the firearm.


Starrett was then transported to the sheriff's office in Ukiah for questioning in regards to the shooting death of victim Michael Hunter, Smallcomb said.


Smallcomb said Starrett was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with bail set at $25,000.


Anyone with information regarding the death of Michael Hunter is encouraged to telephone 707-467-9159. Callers can remain anonymous.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

UPPER LAKE – The US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information about government property stolen late last month.


The Mendocino National Forest reported that over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, between the late hours of Nov. 25 and the early morning hours of Nov. 27, several buildings on the Upper Lake Ranger District compound of the Mendocino National Forest, located on Elk Mountain Road in Upper Lake, were burglarized and a large amount of government property was stolen and other property was damaged.


Among the items stolen were several laptop computers, a desktop computer, and an assortment of electronic equipment including, cameras and several televisions – including two new flat screens.


Also stolen was a significant amount of wildland firefighting equipment, including several Stihl chainsaws, a motorized water pump, a Bendix-King mobile vehicle radio, two Bendix-King brand handheld radios, and an assortment of wildland firefighter gear including Petzl brand headlamps, ESS brand fireman goggles, reflective cold-weather blankets, cases of MRE’s (military-style meals), a flare gun with .22 caliber blanks and a Miller brand MIG welder, officials reported.


In addition several of the buildings were ransacked and damaged, according to the report.


The Forest Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person(s) involved in this theft of government property.


Anyone with information is asked to contact the U.S. Forest Service, Law Enforcement and Investigations Office at Upper Lake at 707-275-1420 or contact Det. Steve Brooks of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 707-262-4200.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – This week Congressman Mike Thompson launched the 14th annual Toys for Kids Drive in Lake County.


“The generosity of Lake County residents and businesses the past 13 years has been heartwarming,” said Thompson, who kicked off the drive on Monday.


The effort has provided thousands of children in the community with Christmas gifts, Thompson said.


He credited the ongoing success of the Toys for Kids Drive to hundreds of individuals and businesses who contribute toys, money, and time to wrap and distribute gifts.


This year, Toys for Kids is partnering with a number of local businesses and public agencies in the annual Christmas toy drive.


Partner groups include Lake Transit Authority, Lake Family Resource Center, Lake County Office of Education-Healthy Family and Healthy Start programs, Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District, Wal-Mart of Clearlake and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.


Toy donations may be dropped off at the following locations:


  • Clearlake: Best Western El Grande Inn, 15135 Lakeshore Drive;

  • Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake: Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District Office, 19400 Hartmann Road;

  • Lakeport: Lake County Office of Education, 1152 S. Main St.


Monetary donations can be sent to Toys for Kids, c/o Brad Onorato, P.O. Box 6742, Napa, CA 94581. Nonprofit tax identification numbers are: state of California ID No. 2456994, federal No. 30-0142588.


Toys for Kids is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization overseen by a board of directors composed of county residents.


Board members include Mel Aust and Tami Ipsen, Hidden Valley Lake; Anna Ocon, Clearlake; Peggy McCloud, Lakeport; Bob Minenna, Lower Lake; Margaret Walker-Stimmel, Kelseyville; Dorrie Walker, Lower Lake.


For more information call 707-695-4670.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

TALMAGE – Authorities are investigating the murder of a Talmage man, who was shot to death early Wednesday morning.


Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that Michael Anthony Hunter, 24, was found fatally wounded at a residence located at 2475 Mill Creek Road in Talmage just after 3 a.m. Wednesday.


The Mendocino County Sheriffs Dispatch Center received a 911 telephone call from a female caller regarding a physical disturbance at the location, Smallcomb said.


Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, California Highway Patrol officers and emergency medical services proceeded to the residence and located a male gunshot victim on the living room floor.


Medical aide was started and the victim was subsequently transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center where Hunter died of the gunshot wounds he received during the assault, according to Smallcomb.


Sheriff's detectives and Mendocino County District Attorney investigators are continuing the investigation, including talking to other victims and witnesses in establishing the suspect or suspects responsible for this incident, Smallcomb noted.


Anyone with information regarding Hunter's death is asked to telephone 707-467-9159. Callers can remain anonymous.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

WILLITS – Authorities arrested a Willits man Monday on a variety of charges after he allegedly was spotted brandishing a fake gun at motorists, which resulted in a temporary shutdown of Highway 101.


Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies arrested Jeremiah Daniel Heilig Monday afternoon, according to a report from sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.


At about 4 p.m. Monday deputies and Willits Police officer responded to the area of Highway 101 and Holland's Lane, where Smallcomb said a motorist had reported that a man dressed in camouflage was standing in a roadside ditch pointing a handgun at passing motorists.


When the deputies arrived on the scene they saw Heilig alongside the highway, allegedly holding an object which appeared to be a handgun, Smallcomb said. Heilig allegedly refused to comply with deputies commands to remain still and leave his hands in view.


After a brief struggle Heilig was taken into custody, Smallcomb said.


Highway 101 was closed for several minutes until it was confirmed that the suspect did not possess an operational firearm. Smallcomb said the gun Heilig had pointed at passing motorists was found to be made of plastic.


Heilig appeared to be confused and offered no explanation for pointing the imitation firearm at motorists, according to Smallcomb's reported. Deputies also found allegedly found Heilig in possession of an illegal "shank" type stabbing device.


Smallcomb said Heilig was arrested for possession of a dirk or dagger, which is a felony, and also was also charged with violation of probation and resisting arrest, and brandishing an imitation firearm. He was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on the charges.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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